Jimson Weed - Datura spp.

(Sacred Datura, Devil's Snare, Devil Weed, Toloache, Estramonio, Thorn Apple, "Loco Weed", Stramonium)

Ethnobotanical Uses


All species of Datura are poisonous, especially their seeds and flowers.


"The alkaloids in jimsonweed can produce a numbing effect or even death. West of the Rio Grande some of the more isolated villages have a history of grinding the roots, leaves, or flowers and applying the powder to wounds or as a poultice for skin infections, probably as an anesthetic or analgesic-under the direction of local experts." (Dunmire and Tierney 205)

"The post-conquest Maya, who called this plant Mehen-x-toh-ku, applied it mashed with butter to reduce tumors." (Curtin 166-7)

"An ointment of the ground seeds and suet is rubbed on boils, pimples, and swellings; the powdered leaves are applied to piles; and hot baths containing the plant give relief to colds and diarrhea." (Curtin 168)

"The 'Asthma Powders' of older use were often only a mixture of equal parts of Jimson Weed and potassium nitrate (saltpeter), ground into a fine powder, ignited at the first sign of spasms in asthmatic attacks, the smoke from the leaves inhaled in any one of several ways." (Moore 91)

Other Uses:

"Jimson weed has important ceremonial associations for various Indian tribes living in the western states, hence, the other common name for it is sacred datura." (Dunmire and Tierney 205)

"Even now the Zuni used tolache for purposes similar to those suggested by the mythical children. A small quantity of the powdered root of Datura meteloides is administered by the rain priest to cause one to go to sleep and see ghosts. This procedure seeks rain, and rains will surely come the day following the taking of the medicine, unless the man to whom it is given has a bad (evil) heart.

The Zuni Indians employ Datura stramonium as a narcotic, anodyme, and anesthetic, and the blossom and roots ground to a powder as an external application for wounds and bruises. In Mexico it is sold as a love potion." (Curtin 167)


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